What are Eye Allergies?

The Northeastern part of the country is getting closer and closer to the spring allergy season.  Meanwhile, our friends in the parts of the country surrounding Austin and San Antonio are in the throws of their own worst seasonal allergy season, mountain cedar.  Seasonal allergies are caused by the body’s inappropriate immune response to airborne particles, such as pollen.  These pollen grains and portions of pollen are released by plants during their normal life cycle for the purposes of reproduction.  In individuals without an allergic predisposition, there is no impact of these pollen particles to their bodies.  However, for those with seasonal allergies, exposure to pollen can be quite troublesome.

Eye allergies, also called allergic conjunctivitis, are the result of exposure to these airborne allergens in allergic people.  Typical symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis are itchy, red, and watery eyes.  These symptoms can become so significant that people try to avoid the outdoor activities they love to help minimize their exposure to pollen.  In Texas in the winter, the offending pollen is mountain cedar.  The tree that produces this pollen is very common in central Texas, and pollinates in the winter months, most significantly in December through February.  Despite the name, the tree that produces this pollen isn’t actually a cedar, but is rather a juniper (Juniperus ashei).  Regardless, the season produces very high levels of airborne pollen that can easily come in contact with the eyes.  See the attached photo, showing the cloud of pollen being released by the trees!

It has been well described that the symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis are caused primarily by direct exposure of the eye to the offending pollen. Typical treatments focus on helping minimize the symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis.  In most cases this involves using antihistamine eye drops, which can provide temporary relieve.  Other therapies, such as anti-inflammatory eye drops, and even eye drops containing steroids, can be used in certain cases.

Like other aspects of allergy management, minimizing or limiting exposure to the allergen can help to reduce or eliminate symptoms.  For eye allergies in particular, using protective eyewear to help minimize the eyes’ exposure to pollen has been universally recommended as an important first step.  Consider goggle-type eyewear for even more protection against airborne pollen, such as the PollenBlockers Guard.  These can help reduce the amount of pollen contacting the eye, and offer 3 ways to be worn.  They can be used as a traditional sunglass for basic protection.  They can be worn with the PollenGuard gasket to help further minimize allergen exposure.  And for maximal protection, the glasses can be used as a goggle by wearing with the PollenGuard gasket and included elastic headband.

Soon, our friends in the Texas area will be out of their hell of mountain cedar fever.  It will then be our turn here in the Northeast.

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